The American Dance Festival is an annual series that celebrates modern dance with performances from a wide range of styles and companies. This year’s lineup of diverse performances include Paul Taylor, the Vertigo Dance Company, and Ragamala Dance.
The ADF also coordinates the Black Tradition in American Modern Dance project. In 2007, the project worked with PBS to create a documentary, Free to Dance, chronicling the history of African American contributions to modern dance. (The program’s website also has a great timeline on the subject.)
If you want to learn more about African American dance history, check out some of the books the Stone Center has to offer.
- Huntington, Carla Stalling. 2011. Black Social Dance in Television Advertising: an analytical history. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. A study of the use of African American dances in mainstream advertising.
- Evans, Freddi Williams. 2011. Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans. Lafayette, LA: University of Louisiana Press. Discusses one of the most important sites in African American dance culture, and the fusion of African and New Orleans traditions.
These books all focus on groundbreaking African American ballerinas:
- Lewin, Tamar Yael. 2011. Night’s Dancer: The Life of Janet Collins. Middletown, Conn: Wesleyan University Press.
- Dixon, Melanye White. 2011. Marion D. Cuyjet and her Judimar School of Dance : training ballerinas in Black Philadelphia 1948-1971. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.
- Gottschild, Brenda Dixon. 2012. Joan Myers Brown & the audacious hope of the Black ballerina : a biohistory of American performance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
A biography of Pearl Primus, a modern dancer who brought African dance to American audiences.
- Schwartz, Peggy and Murray Schwartz. 2011. The Dance Claimed Me: a biography of Pearl Primus. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Pearl Primus appeared at the American Dance Festival several times, and in 1987 she participated in an event for African American choreographers. In 2000, the ADF was given a collection of Primus’ work and notes. (Find out more here.)
Primus’ choreography continues to influence the modern dance scene, and her company performed at ADF as recently as 2008:
The American Dance Festival will continue into next week, with the final performance on July 28.